Health Advocates Say Brown's Budget Proposal Would Hurt Underserved


Health care advocates are expressing concern that Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) budget proposal for fiscal year 2012-2013 would negatively affect ethnic communities, the elderly, children and individuals with disabilities, New America Media reports (New America Media, 1/7).


The $92.6 billion spending proposal includes deep cuts to health and human services programs. The budget plan proposes cutting:

  • $946.2 million from CalWORKs -- the state's welfare-to-work program -- by limiting the amount of time most adults could be on the program from four years to two years;
  • $842.3 million from Medi-Cal -- California's Medicaid program -- by merging services for beneficiaries eligible for both Medi-Cal and Medicare;
  • $163.8 million from In-Home Supportive Services -- which provides services for the elderly and people who are blind or have disabilities -- by eliminating domestic assistance for beneficiaries in shared living environments; and
  • $64 million from moving children out of Healthy Families, California's Children's Health Insurance Program, to Medi-Cal (California Healthline, 1/6).

Reaction to Budget Proposal

According to New America Media, individuals from ethnic and racial groups comprise about 60% of Healthy Families beneficiaries and 70% of Medi-Cal beneficiaries, and regions with high Hispanic populations would be especially affected by the proposed cuts.

Chad Silva, policy director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, added that the proposed cuts would harm access to care for low-income individuals.

Other health advocates question the governor's plan to shift 875,000 Healthy Families beneficiaries to Medi-Cal while trimming reimbursement rates to managed care providers.

Mike Oden, a health policy associate for Children Now, said, "It's alarming because it's a big change in a short period of time" (New America Media, 1/7).

Meanwhile, C. Duane Dauner, president of the California Hospital Association, said that the proposed budget cuts could create problems for California's elderly, individuals with disabilities and rural health clinics, which often operate with limited resources. Dauner noted that hospitals could face a loss of up to $86 million in combined state and federal funding for Medi-Cal (Barr, Modern Healthcare, 1/6).

Governor 'Makes a Strong Case' With Budget Plan, Editorial Argues

A Sacramento Bee editorial argues that in his proposed budget plan, "Brown makes a strong case that California needs to close [its] structural deficit once and for all and start paying down debt."

"On the downside, Brown is proposing some spending cuts and fund shifts that could run afoul of the law," the editorial notes, adding, "Cuts to Medi-Cal could hurt patients with serious disabilities, resulting in legal action that the state could lose."

The editorial concludes that "overall, [Brown] is making a serious effort to rid California of a fiscal albatross" (Sacramento Bee, 1/7).

Broadcast Coverage

Headlines and links to broadcast coverage of the governor's proposed budget plan are below:

Tom Johnson
Dah, of course the cuts would hurt the elderly, poor, uninsured and vulnerable. In effect, the cuts would hurt us all because of public health as well as moral issues. That said, the state in fy 2010 spent $32 billion on employee pay and benefits, up 65% in 10 years. During that same time, spending on higher education went down 5% and spending for health and human services went up only 5%. If we want to spend more on education and on public health services (and we need to) then we need to trim state spending in other areas. Pension reform, less regulations, reduced bureaucracy, fewer state employees, etc. Will the legislature ever take this issue on? These ideas are not just euphemisms but are solutions to a budget problem that won't go away. As several past Governor's have stated, we have a state spending problem, not a tax problem, and I would add that the problem of our underfunded education and public health system could be solved internally with legislative leadership.
Robert Forster
Agree Hatti. When will the majority face reality? RUSH-the rock n'Role Band's view: Rush: Something For Nothing Lyrics Waiting for the winds of change To sweep the clouds away Waiting for the rainbow's end To cast it's gold your way Countless ways You pass the days Waiting for someone to call And turn your world around Looking for an answer To the question you have found Looking for An open door You don't get something for nothing You can't have freedom for free You won't get wise With the sleep still in your eyes No matter what your dreams might be What you own is your own kingdom What you do is your own glory What you love is your own power What you live is your own story In your head is the answer Let it guide you along Let your heart be the anchor And the beat of your own song You don't get something for nothing You can't have freedom for free You won't get wise With the sleep still in your eyes No matter what your dreams might be
Hatti Hamlin
"Brown's Budget Proposal Would Hurt the Underserved"--there's a news flash! Who WOULDN'T be hurt by the cuts. The point is that we Californians have refused for decades to face up to the fact that we can't have the things we want without paying for them. Tax rebates for home buying. Tax rebates for "energy efficiency." "Five a Day" programs to promote nutrition. And, of course,some of the lowest property taxes in the nation. We say we need protect the elderly from being "pushed out of their homes by high property taxes." So why did we give EVERYONE--including corporations-- Prop 13 tax breaks? We could have solved the problem with a tax deferral for over-65 homeowners that came due upon sale of their homes, couldn't we? But we all wanted in at the trough. There are programs to help firefighters and school teachers buy homes--regardless of their household incomes. We just don't want to ever say "no" to anybody. So why is anyone surprised that this is the outcome. We deserve it.
Robert Forster
Don't you think this is Brown's Machiavelkian plan to put the "vulnerables" at risk so that both ideologies would accept massive/permanent tax increases to keep them out of risk? Why not start with wholesale statewide public employee and legislature salary and benefit parity studies? Reduce and consolidate bureaucracies. Measure program success or not and eliminate those sucking dollars without benefit. Institute merits for those who find efficiencies instead of full time public employee promotion seeking that is common today (enhances retirement beyond value of role). This is all a polital scam on Americans who seem like lemmings running to the cliff of insolvency. The fiscal revelations this past year should be enough (top of ice berg) to refuse more taxes and expect true management and reform. Noting is immutable, why is our government continuing to expand and prosper?

to share your thoughts on this article.